Saturday, October 2, 2010

Commuting by bicycle

One week ago I promised myself that I'd bike to work sometime in the coming week. I had a head cold early in the week so I thought Thursday would be the day. But then it rained, and rained hard. So Friday I had to do it. It was clear and in the low 50s F at 7:30 when I left the house. It only takes 10 minutes to get to work by car, so I figured it wouldn't take more than 20 minutes by bike. But there are two big hills between my home and work, so I thought I needed to allow some extra time for climbing them. In actuality, I didn't need the extra time. It took 12.5 minutes to get to work, a distance of 2.6 miles. The hills were really tame, and I rejoice at that!

It's the hills that have scared me off from commuting by bicycle. Before moving to this hilly region of the U.S., I used to live in a flat riverplain. I biked to work routinely during the warmer months, 5 miles each way. I loved it, and it made me look forward to going to work! But 3 years ago in a new town with lots of hills, I found that I wasn't the cyclist that I thought I was. The hills tired me out. I remember biking to work one day soon after I moved here, and it was a terribly tiring and sweaty experience.

But it's been 3 years since I moved, and 25 months since I started working out regularly. Those two hills between me and work shall challenge me no more. I did not even sweat in the 12.5 minutes it took to get to work (nor on the return leg). Even with the hills, I maintained an average speed of 12.3 mph. I did not breathe hard, and my leg muscles got me through it without any problem. In fact, this experience is really quite underwhelming and strangely, disappointing. This wasn't a challenge at all. It didn't feel like a great achievement. I can't really count biking to work as part of my workout because it is too short and didn't work me very hard. Whereas before I was embarrassed that I couldn't commute by bicycle, I am now embarrassed that I haven't been doing it all along.

I look forward to the next day I can hop on my bike to work. However, the weather for the next week looks unsettled, and the daylight hours are waning--will the sun still be rising early enough for me to ride in the daylight?

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